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Special Education/Getting the 1:1 support

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Question
Hello.
I am happy to have found this site! I hope you might help.
My son has made very little progress. He does not do better in a small class over a large class and has no peer models in the small class. We tried the small class and he was very unhappy. Then we went to a normal class with supports. This went much better in terms of his happiness and some learning but progress was still very slow. At least he was not going backwards as in the small class. He is a bright kid and the small class was ridiculous. How can I make a cogent request for 1:1?  He learns best 1:1. They like to call the small class 1:1 but it is 1:5.  He has an aide but the aide is not educational at all. I feel he is entitled to a 1:1 to a teacher for some point during the day. I would want it to be for the more difficult part of the day, to prepare him.  This is a support he benefits from no matter where he is. The difference is as it stands now I am doing the 1:1. I do not mind doing this but I don't always know what they do in school and I feel it should be relevant to school.  The school said no to this and then said if I was unhappy, I could do the small class again even though it was such a failure or try to find a private placement. The private placement is so expensive so I don't understand why they would do that and not the 1:1 unless they are not being honest. There is only one private placement that to me seems appropriate and they end at 2nd grade which is just one more year. I don't want to put my son in a different school for just one year, for me that makes no sense. The other placements I've checked out are for very non verbal or emotionally disturbed children, neither of which my son is.  My son is very bright but has learning disabilities. How can I get the school to support him properly with the pre teach? Thanks much!

Answer
ABCs for Life Success
ABCs for Life Success  
Dear Jasmine,  Thanks so much for using this valuable service and for selecting me for your question.  If I understand, you feel that your son benefits from being in the general education setting/classroom with supports but you feel that your son needs 1:1 preteaching of certain more difficult skills.  You seem to imply he is in the first or second grade now.   You also said that you are doing the 1:1 preteaching right now, at home.  The school said 'no' to your request, and told you he can go back to the special education setting class or go to a private school.  That's very interesting. If the school is mentioning a private setting, and that is the only place where this is possible, and your son needs this service, then I would make a case that the school district would pay for the private school.  

But your question is more: how can I make an argument for what I am requesting?  The formula for parents making a request is the following:

Be sure you have evaluations in one or more areas, related to why your son needs 1:1 preteaching, how it should be done, who should do it, for how long, and how progress should be monitored.  This report by a professional will help you work with the IEP team to prove what your son needs.  If the school says 'no' to the requests to add the service or change the IEP, inspect the prior written notice.  PWN is written notice after the meeting that tells the parent why the team said 'no' and what reports it relied on.  Here is a great article about how to use the PWN as a tool:
http://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/using-prior-written-notice-as-a-tool/

Inspect the reports that the school has documented why your child does not need this service.  Then act to either counter that report or address it in some way.  If you did not get proper PWN, you should inspect your child's record to see if it is there at school.  Then, you could complain you did not receive it.  

If you have proof that your son needs this, and an evaluation which recommends it, then you will be properly set up to be effective in a mediation.  It will be time to consult a professional like me or an attorney if you feel that the school is not providing your child with FAPE.  FAPE is a free appropriate public education, your child and you are entitled to receive.  This means your child makes meaningful progress, accesses the curriclum, has an IEP that is beneficial, you are an equal partner with the team, and overall, processes and procedures are followed.  A professional also may know of various public and nonpublic options.  

If your son is not making sufficient progress to attain his goals, by law, the IEP team has to meet to figure out why and put into place interventions that will allow him to make progress.   

Usually, in first or second grade, teachers provide small group instruction and that could be a good opportunity to preteach.  Since parents usually don't know the curriculum and day to day instruction, I can imagine it would be difficult for you to try to do this after school.  I would try to build on the structure that is already in the classroom.  Perhaps the special educator could pull your child aside to preteach and collect data whether that makes a difference.  Or, there could be an aide on the IEP.  The key is having an evaluation that shows what he needs in terms of specialized instruction and related services.  

Many parents try to just go into the team asking for a certain service without the data to support the request and without understanding the FAPE obligations of the school.  If that is the case and you keep getting 'no' as an answer, I think someone like me to support you may be something to consider.  

Lastly, I would be sure your son is getting the right type of evidence based interventions, methods that have been proven to work, in areas that he is not making progress.  It is very important to intervene as early as possible.  

I hope this answer has helped you as you advocate for your son!  And thank you again for using this service!

abc4success@msn.com
301-593-5166  

Special Education

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.

Expertise

I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.

Experience

10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Education/Credentials
Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); B.S.in Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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